Enriching the Wildflower Meadow through Fire

To people driving by, it may have looked like a fire but it actually wasn’t. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park conducted a controlled burn of the Doehne Wildflower Meadow on March 29.

Controlled burns are very safe, easily controlled, slow and well planned. During a controlled burn, fire is used to control fire-intolerant non-native species while giving fire-adaptive native species a lengthened growing season. Other benefits include:

* Returning nutrients from the dead vegetation back to the soil
* Stimulating seed germination, sprouting and growth
* Allowing more rainfall to reach the ground
* Destroying plant pathogens, reducing the incidence of disease

“Burning is a natural process and occurs in many ecosystems,” says Steve LaWarre, Director of Horticulture for Meijer Gardens. “By executing this burn, we re-introduced a natural process to the Doehne Wildflower Meadow’s ecosystem.”

The meadow was donated by Harry and Elin Doehne and the Wildflower Association and installed in the fall of 2002. It is approximately three-quarters of an acre and representative of a wildflower prairie. It contains 30 to 40 species of forbs and grasses native to Michigan.

“The Wildflower Association is very pleased with how efficiently the burn was done,” says Cheryl Tolley of the Wildflower Association. “Since this hasn’t been done with the meadow before, it has been an educational process for everyone involved, which fits with the Wildflower Association’s mission as well. I think people will be amazed at the difference and how quickly the new forbes and grasses come up through the rich black dirt.”

Steve and Cheryl agree, “We hope to do this again in a few years.”

Control burn at Meijer Gardens – MLive.com

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